Water problems need to be dealt with quickly including foundation dampness which can create subsidence, cause timber rot and attract termites.

It is not uncommon for home-owners to unwittingly confuse what is stormwater and what is sewer. Downpipes pointed at sewer vents or Gully traps are often evident in aging properties by way of improvised home activities. Water taps located and leaking into Gully traps are also widely evident in these circumstances – bush plumbing!

Home maintenance in the 21st. Century means that identification of the difference between services and their appropriate use needs to be understood in order to fix problems.

The cause of a water problem can often be identified by keeping three things in mind:

  1. Fresh water is supplied by the local water authority and distributed to various outlets by a network of pipes.
  2. Storm water from rainfall – unless it’s stored for re-use – is discharged through a network of stormwater pipes.
  3. Waste water (from sinks, basins, washing machines, showers and toilets) is also discharged by a network of sewer pipes -usually of smaller diameter and set deeper into the ground than stormwater pipes.

The three networks should be completely separate and damp ground conditions suggest that one of them isn’t working properly. If the ground smells, it’s probably the waste water system, but if it doesn’t it’s likely to be either the storm water drainage system or the fresh water supply system.

To see whether the water supply network is the problem, check your water meter last thing at night after you’ve finished using water for the day. Check it again in the morning before using any water (so don’t flush the toilet!) and see if the reading has changed. If it has, you’ve got a leak.

Storm water drainage problems should only be evident after/during heavy rainfall.

Ultimately you’ll need a plumber to repair most water problems but it can help to know what you’re talking about when getting quotes. It’s also useful to know whether the problem is yours, the Council’s, the water authority’s, or even the neighbours so you know who to approach.

A consequence of uncontrolled site drainage is that where in-ground soakage or sump pits should have been provided, none exist. When coupled with high surrounding ground that allows over-ground discharge towards the edge of a house, there are likely to be consequential defects in the building – dampness, cracking of walls/footings and the like. It is this interface of adversely presented site and services conditions that can most adversely affect building performance and livability. An Archicentre Australia architect can assist in analysing these issues – then recommending ways to make them better.